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March 10, 2023
A mother can be powerful, inspirational, nurturing and loving, offering her child support, love and being a role model. Mothers are often expected to do all of this alongside juggling careers, daily challenges and multitasking.
I spoke to four exceptional women artists in Skylark Galleries London about how they juggle being an artist with motherhood, other careers and creativity.
“As mothers we nurture, as artists we translate our nurturing through our hands into creativity subconsciously.“ - Helen Trevisiol Duff
Sarah Knight: "outstanding role model"
Sarah Knight group exhibition
Seascape in Lismer Blue by Sarah Knight £420
Sarah is not only a talented painter and printmaker but also is an incredible organiser! She is a key part of the team running our gallery on a daily basis, keeping the finances in check, tackling any problems and is a leaseholder. She takes her responsibilities very seriously and is recognised within our team at Skylark Galleries as an outstanding role model. She's super organised and a beautiful person inside and out. She spends her day organising family life alongside other very demanding roles in the Arts in Ealing.
Sarah is a mother of two and balances her diverse roles brilliantly. What an inspiration to us all. Sarah gives us a very poignant insight into her life... She's incredible!
“Being a mother to two girls, and being an artist is a very particular fine line. Many mothers juggle home, family and work. Many could relate to the choice of running your own business, which as a practising artist you are.
The scheduling of your own business provides an opportunity to do more, create more, answer those emails, compete more, work that extra hour at the end of the day because you are constantly trying to develop it.
These are stories in some form running through most households across the globe. How to juggle, how to succeed in your personal life and your work life. How to live without guilt at your choices and priorities.
"For me there is another dimension to this internal dialogue, because I grew up without a mother. That has shaped who I am in so many different ways. I made a conscious decision when I had children to ‘be there’ for them. When they were both very small I put my art almost entirely on the back burner. That was my choice and I’m happy that I made it. But art is a massive part of who I am.
"Now they are a bit older I do spend more time developing my art, both in actually creating but also exhibiting and promoting it. I think it’s good to show them a work ethic, perseverance and ambition.
"But being an artist I want to teach them something more, just how precious being creative, purely for the sake of it, really is. When I draw or paint, I find it’s a kind of intense concentration, without any direct thought. A state of mind and focus that connects you to yourself and the moment. It’s fulfilling and nurturing and I believe leads to increased awareness and acceptance of the self. Every time I encourage my daughters to pick up a pencil or a brush, every time I answer one of their questions about what I’m making and how I’m doing it, I hope I am leading them to the same discoveries and building their confidence to create and realise the innate value of their own creativity."
Smita Sonthalia "motivational multi-tasker"
Smita Sonthalia in her home studio
New mother by Smita Sonthalia £450
Born and raised in India, Smita has come from a rich and vibrant culture where motherhood is all important. She draws inspiration from nature, spiritualism and women. Like Sarah, when she's painting she feels lost in meditation and can escape into a world of creativity. She juggles all of this - as a motivational multi-tasker - while running the home, cooking for her extended family and doing the school run.
Smita says, "Being a mother of two beautiful girls is a blessing. Creating art and teaching art along with caring for them is not that easy. But I feel that we are multi-taskers and I do my paintings during school hours. And my art teaching job on weekends where they are taken care of by my spouse. My princesses are my supporters and inspiration for my artistic career.
"I am proud to be a woman.
"Let's fly high and high With our small wings We always try and try We are beautiful and colourful Like a butterfly
"With Rebirth, transformation and hope We aim to reach the sky."
Sarita Keeler - great communicator who "appreciates the insight" her children bring
Sarita Keeler in her home studio
Green landscape by Sarita Keeler £320
Sarita's art explores moods and a sense of movement, within the natural world and the urban landscape. She uses acrylic and mixed media to create multi-layered, tactile pieces and welcomes commissions. Her home studio centres around her kitchen and family life.
Sarita says, “Because art is so central to my life and experiences, and I see the world through a creative lens it’s something that I’m very grateful to share with my children. When they were younger I used to sit and do art projects with them or refurbish a table together for their room. Now that they’re older I love to share my pieces with them. They walk in and out while I paint and we talk through the process.
"I always appreciate their insight into whether or not the colours work or if the composition is interesting, they are brutally honest and are usually right. Even though it’s a personal process for me, I’ve always enjoyed sharing that part of me with my children.
"I also work as a learning support assistant at a primary school. Art is a very useful means of communicating and makes learning so much more fun. Being an artist as well as a mother, and working with children is a good balance.. it tends to be flexible and fun!"
Stella Tooth - portraitist who provides "exceptional insight'"into her sitter's characters
Stella Tooth in her home studio
Elliot digital painting by Stella Tooth portrait artist
Stella has had an incredible career as a journalist and as a senior BBC/Sky News PR bringing up her two children, retraining as a portrait artist and has recently become a grandmother. She puts her skills as a portraitist who goes beyond the external features of her sitters to provide exceptional insight into their character.
She says, “One of the joys of being a portrait artist is being able to capture special moments in your own family’s history. As my little grandson grows, I will have etched in my memory, from my eye being over every inch of his dear face, the first, few precious days of his life. Although I worked from the blink of a camera lens, I also watched him sleeping and occasionally opening a sleepy eye to check all was well. All this seeped into my digital painting which took over a week to complete. During that time he hovered between the look of our daughter-in-law and the look of our son. Each new day was a revelation.”
If you’d like to commission Stella to create a portrait of your own child or grandchild, find out how by clicking here.
These mothers are inspiring, continuing to achieve so much while raising their families. I’m in awe of their passion, strength, kindness, ability and resilience... As an artist mother myself, well aware of the competing pressures of family and career, I'm so proud to know these outstanding women.
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